Winter has finally arrived and it is wonderful. I made it back from week out-of-town for work just in time to enjoy a snowy weekend in the city. It started snowing Friday night and it kept falling into Sunday. Our totals were probably only about 6 inches after it was all said and done.
Here again a week later, we are waking up to a fresh blanket of snow. Since we have been close to the city home for the past couple of weekends I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share what we have learned about keeping domestic ducks in the winter.
Most of what I have learned is courtesy of Lisa Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily (@fresheggsdaily). Thanks, Lisa! If you are interested, I encourage you to read up on the topic to make sure you are getting the facts. It is fascinating to learn about their special physiology that allows them to jump into a cold pond in the middle of winter: Why don’t duck feet freeze?.
It is just now the coldest it has been since we have had them, and as a result of what I have learned about how cold tolerant they are, I am taking the recommended measures to protect them against the “below 20 degree Fahrenheit” threshold. The heated water dog bowl is getting its inaugural use today (which they seem to love) and I beefed up their house last night with a couple of full flakes of straw to take up some empty space and add to insulation. Although the outside temp is about 10 in the sun, it is at least several degrees warmer in their house. We will toss in a couple of more flakes of straw in their house, as it is only going to get colder tonight. While their coop door is open, I draped a towel to cover the opening and keep some cold air out.
I should clarify that the water bowl is in their run. One thing I can say with confidence, is that you should never put water inside their house when it is super cold out (or ever, in general) since it can cause a situation where things will get wet and they will possibly get frostbite.
I fed them some warm oatmeal with peanuts and raisins (which honestly, they haven’t eaten yet) to help raise their body temperature. I think i will offer some warm pea soup later. That, I can be certain they will love.
Finally, in their outdoor run, I spread out some straw on top of the snow to give them something to step on that is not directly on the cold ground. I even tossed in a nice piece of wood for them to sit on if they wish. I want them to have options. Above it all, I am so happy to be home so I can keep a close eye on them. These are the first super cold days that I have had them for, so I feel like this is a great time to establish a baseline with them. It is time to learn what this group in particular needs to get them through this special time of year.
Do your homework. I have been using Google, consulting my print resources (Duck Eggs Daily) and asking questions to the Instagram duck community to get this right. You don’t know what you don’t know, so reach out to get the information you need.